It’s not just first-time novelists or screenwriters that struggle with getting their story from the imagination to the page. Every writer struggles with this.
Here’s the thing: Our idea of our story is never the whole story. When a writer holds onto his idea of the plot, he tends to get stuck. By exploring the nature of what we’re attempting to express, we are led to a more dynamic version of our story.
Notice the dilemma that your protagonist is struggling with. That is the tension that carries the through-line of your novel. The through-line does not lie in the plot, though almost every first-time writer thinks it does. It lies in the theme, and the theme is explored through the protagonist’s attempt to resolve his dilemma.
When we understand that our protagonist’s goal is not difficult, but rather, it is impossible to achieve, we begin to shed our idea of the goal for the truth of the goal.
Just as the writer dies to his old idea of how the story should go, our protagonist experiences a loss of his old identity in order to be reborn.